Culture Ministry Defends Twitter Tribute to Hindutva Ideologue Who Justified Caste, Supported Hitler
After the Ministry of Culture received enormous backlash for posting a birthday tribute to far-right Hindutva ideologue M.S Golwalkar, a culture ministry official has defended the decision to do so.
“India is most culturally diverse nation in the world and an epitome of multiculturalism. Ministry of Culture represents the aspirations of every section of society and do not believe in silencing any ideologies or voices which is not the part of traditional narrative,” Nitin Tripathi, the media advisor to the Ministry, wrote in a tweet. “Distinctive socio-cultural traits, customs, traditions and sets of values must be respected at all cost and this has been one of the essential elements of the democracy like India since ages.”
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Golwalkar, an ex-head of the Hindu right organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was one of the suspects arrested for his suspected involvement in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. He had strong opposition to both the freedom struggle and the national flag.
In its controversial tweet, the Ministry of Culture called Golwalkar a “great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader,” further stating that Golwalkar’s thoughts “will remain a source of inspiration and continue to guide generations.”
Golwalkar’s views were so extreme that even the current RSS chief has distanced himself from some of them on multiple occasions. He believed that minorities — in his definition, non-Hindu and non-upper caste individuals — could only live as second-class citizens unless they accepted Hindu ideologies. He was also an avid supporter of German genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler and wrote in support of the latter’s anti-Semitism in his book, Our Nationhood Defined.
An excerpt from the book reads, “… To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races – the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
The Ministry’s decision to defend their glorification of Golwalkar via the smokescreen of inclusivity of thought paints a disingenuous picture of tolerance — one far more liberal than that in which activists and journalists languish in jail for attempting to seek facts, while an individual with a history of advocating oppression is revered and celebrated. However, the backlash to both the original post and the explanations — with strong rejections from citizens and politicians like former culture secretary Jawahar Sircar and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor — shows that Indians are watching and will stand up against any glorification of violent ideologies.